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Visiting Grandfather Mountain in the Fall – What to Expect

Grandfather Mountain

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In the fall, when the leaves put on a show of color, you must visit Grandfather Mountain in Western North Carolina! This is the best time of year to go and see nature’s paintings of brilliant, crisp reds, oranges, and golds! Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountain chain, so it is the best place to enjoy the fall colors!


Grandfather Mountain  is located in Linville, NC and became a NC state park in 2009. It is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the region. Seventy-three rare and endangered species can be found on the mountain, and Grandfather Mountain State Park is part of the United Nations International Network of Biosphere Reserves. It has some of the most gorgeous views in Western North Carolina and there are lots of things to do there.


Climb to Your Heart’s Content…

There are more than twelve miles of maintained hiking trails. These trials are for any hiking level, from beginner, easy hiking to advanced, backcountry hiking. Some of the most difficult backcountry trails even have cliffs that must be climbed with stationed ladders and cables. You can also hike with mountain naturalists on guided tours. On these hikes, hear the history of the area and look for the mountain wildlife and native plants.


Explore the Wild…

Grandfather Mountain is home to North Carolina’s native animals, such as black bears, cougars, deer, elk, bald eagles, and river otters. Do not let the wildlife scare you off, though. There are wildlife habitat viewing areas where you can observe the animals in their natural environment safely. You get up close observations, without disturbing the animals.


Dare to Swing in the Sky…

One of the highlights of the mountain is its mile high swinging bridge. From the bridge, you have 360 degree panoramic views. As the name indicates, the bridge is one mile above sea level. It is 228 feet and crosses an 80 foot chasm. The bridge was originally built in 1952 and was updated in 1999 with galvanized steel cables, floorboards, and side rails.

PRO TIP: On busy fall days try to make Swinging Bridge your first stop in the morning.


Learn a Little…

Another great place to visit on the mountain is the Nature Museum. There are exhibits on the history of the mountain, as well as the region’s native plants, gems, animals, and Native Americans. You can also learn about the famous explorers of Grandfather Mountain, such as Daniel Boone and John Muir. There is a theater in the museum that shows videos of the area all day long.


Eat and Carve…

Throughout the park, there are several picnic areas and grills. The biggest picnic area is called The Woods Walk, and it has picnic tables, a water fountain, and bathroom area. If you would rather not pack a picnic, never fear, there is also a restaurant and fudge shop. Be sure to visit the Wood Carver’s Workshop, which is located beside The Woods Walk. Distinguished wood carver, Tom Wolfe has his shop there. You may watch him work, and he talks to the crowd most days from 11am to 3pm. Look for the “Woodcarver” sign hanging up in the picnic area to know that he is in, and the shop is open.


Let me caution you about driving to Grandfather Mountain State Park. The street address is 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646; however, the Grandfather Mountain website strongly advises against just typing this address into your GPS and going. GPS will find the shortest path to the mountain, and that is not always the safest drive. There are many remote areas with winding, narrow mountain roads. The safest way to get there is to use the U.S. 221 entrance. For step by step driving directions, please visit the Grandfather Mountain website and follow the directions labeled “from Asheville, NC”.


The state park is open every day, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and if weather conditions are unsafe. (Call 828-733-4337 to check on the weather conditions before you leave for the park.) You do have to buy tickets to get in; however, money from ticket sales goes towards mountain preservation. Children 3 years and under get in for free and ticket prices are as follows: ages 4 to 12 – $9; ages 13 to 59 – $20, and ages 60 and over – $18. If you arrive at Grandfather Mountain between 10am-3pm on weekends during the fall colors be prepared to wait sometime in line.


Grandfather Mountain is 98.2 miles from Avalon Mountain Community, and it is really worth the travel. This is truly one of the most memorable places you will visit in Western North Carolina. Breathtaking views are just the start of the incredible things you will see and learn there. Plan to spend the day exploring and visit often!

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